If you're on the East Coast, it has been a trying week for you. If you're not on the East Coast, maybe it's been a trying week for you, too, and I'm sorry about that. But, as many of you know, I'm located in NYC, and all of us here have been dealt quite a huge, disastrous blow by the beast that was Hurricane Sandy. I, luckily, did not suffer any damage to my home or person, and neither did any of my loved ones. Hundreds of thousands of people in the tri-state area were not nearly as fortunate, and for those people, I've been tearing up a little bit every day. It hurts to see your city hurting. It stings to watch businesses, restaurants, bakeries (!) and bars that you've known and loved destroyed. But most of all, it breaks my heart to watch people suffer. As I type this, there is a snowy, rainy, windy, disgusting mess outside that the people affected by Sandy do not need. I think I'm going to cry right now. But look, crying won't do anything. Here are some things that will:
This lovely advice blogger is accepting donations to purchase supplies that will be hand-delivered to a Brooklyn church this Saturday, November 10th.
The geniuses behind Brooklyn bakery Robicelli's have information on their Twitter on where/how you can help.
There is a BRILLIANT "wedding registry" over on Amazon, with an amazing number of items you can "gift" to victims.
Habitat for Humanity is collecting donations to aid in recovery/rebuilding efforts.
The Awl has a frequently-updated list of places where you can volunteer if you're locally-based.
Monsieur Igloo is offering free consulting/work to businesses in the tri-state area that were affected by the storm. Contact James for details.
Those are just a few of the many ways you can help. I'm a little hesitant to post anything from the Red Cross, since their overhead is kind of bonkers, and I'm slightly suspicious. Also, the above options are all donator-to-donatee (I know that's not a real word, forgive): every penny you give, every blanket or diaper you buy will go directly to someone in need.
Lastly, I know a lot of weddings were affected by the storm as well. If you know any couples in need of an officiant in the NYC area, please have them contact me, and I'll be happy to perform their ceremonies free of charge.
Okay. So. I guess it's still a baking blog, right? Which means I should share a baked good with you? Cool?
Now, this is something I'd been wanting to make, well, forever. Yes, there is pumpkin in it. Of course there is pumpkin in it. You know me by now. You must! Let's get started, since this is going to take you a little while.
Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls (makes 16 to 18 buns)
For the dough
6 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of milk , warmed (I used skim, turned out awesomesaucers)
2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling out the dough.
1/4 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
2/3 cups of pumpkin puree
1 large egg
Oil for coating bowl
For the filling
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
For the glaze
4 ounces of cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, softened
2 tablespoons of milk or buttermilk
2 cups of powdered sugar
Couple of drops of vanilla, optional
Okay, let's start with the dough. Melt your butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Smitten Kitchen suggested browning the butter, which I love doing and totally recommend. Once the butter's melted, keep cooking over medium heat until the butter starts sizzling, smelling nutty and forming tiny golden bits. Remove from heat and set aside.
Now, in a small bowl, combine warmed milk and yeast. After a few minutes, the combo should be a bit foamy. If it's not, sucks for you. Go out and buy yourself some new yeast (FYI, always refrigerate yeast).
Now, in a hand mixer or your gorgeous and perfect stand mixer, combine your flour, sugars, spices and salt. Add about 1/4 cup of your butter to the mixture, and stir until combined. Add the yeast-milk, pumpkin and egg and-- if you have one, use a dough hook at this point-- run mixer on low for 5 minutes, until dough has formed.
Scrape this dough into a large oiled bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for at least an hour. In the meantime, butter two 9-inch round cake pans (or square, no shape-hating here).
Now, when the hour's up, place your dough (which should have doubled in size by now) onto a well-floured surface and roll out a 16x11 inch rectangle. I just used a cookie sheet because I need guidance. Brush the rest of your butter onto the dough, then sprinkle filling ingredients evenly over the top.
This is where it all gets real. So, basically, you have to roll this thing up, starting on the long side, until you have as tight a roll as you can possibly get. It's going to be REALLY freaking messy. Whatever filling you lose along the way can be sprinkled on top of your rolls later, though.
Now, the best way to cut these is also the best way to cut a loaf of bread. With a serrated knife, begin sawing the spiral, using almost no force, back and forth until you've got a slice. Keep going until you have the desired number of rolls. Once you do, you can pack them in tightly between your cake pans. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for the second rise for 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Remove the plastic wrap and send into oven for 25 minutes, until the rolls are fluffy and beautiful and you kind of want to eat your entire oven.
So while these are baking, you can make your glaze by combining cream cheese, sugar and vanilla (if desired), and then adding as much milk as you desire for your glaze. Place pans on cooling racks and drizzle with glaze.
Ok, so, as you can see I do not fully understand what "drizzle" means, since these were basically doused in glaze. They were still awesome, though. Like...amazing. Like, worth the nine or whatever hours of waiting it took to actually finish and be able to consume these. Do yourself some good. Make these.